Hello beautiful August! First, let me apologize for the quality of the picture above – the beautiful summer sun was blinding to the lens on my phone. This photo was taken last Tuesday morning at an IT bootcamp my team and I attended at the beautiful Belmont harbor. As you can imagine, most speakers at the conference talked about security and I want to take a moment this week to share two key concepts with you (in plain English, as always). I intend to share more takeaways with you in the coming weeks if you like them, and I promise to sandwich them between margarita recipes and other fun things 😊
The first is this: “cyber security” is no longer the keyword. Instead, the focus is shifting to “cyber resilience”. What does this mean? The uncomfortable truth is that cyber attacks are increasing in frequency. Much like doctors, we can administer medicine and make habit-changing recommendations to drastically reduce your chances of being compromised and insure a speedy recovery if infected. However, we have to work together, and even then, there are no guarantees.
The second is ransomware. According to a recent study, most people are uncertain on how ransomware works or how it can affect them. Basically, ransomware is when bad guys use readily available software to encrypt your data and applications, essentially locking you out of your own computer. Then, when you try to run any apps or access your data, the computer will ask you for the encryption key which you, of course, must pay to receive. You must have heard a news coverage about large companies paying these ransoms to gain access to their systems in the past. Without the encryption key, it is simply too difficult and extremely expensive to get around these attacks. There is no easy fix. Even if you don’t have important files on your computer and instead use OneDrive, Google Drive, DropBox, or any other cloud service, ransomware can reach your documents there and lock you out, too. It’s like returning home one day and finding a steel door with bunch of padlocks preventing you from entering your own house, and someone in the shadow waving the keys in exchange for some untraceable cash. Ransomware is still the biggest threat and can affect you no matter how or for what you use your computer.
My team and I are always ready to chat and help you build up the walls of cyber resilience. Enjoy the best days of summer and see you next week!
– Burak Sarac, Team Lead
Add Alexa to your iPhone or iPad
If you’re an iPhone user but prefer Alexa over Siri we have good news! While there isn’t a way to totally exchange the two smart assistants, there is a way to add Alexa to your Apple device and make her easily accessible. This means you can control more of your smart home devices with your iPhone! Read this article for more information.
National Book Lovers Day is August 9th
Books are one of the purest form of escapism. They can take you to any time, place, or culture. In honor of National Book Lovers Day, August 9, we put away our smartphones, pull out a good book and simply read. (Or listen, if an audiobook is your preference.) Here is the most current list of best sellers from the New York Times. I personally recommend Where the Crawdads Sing, Untamed, Braiding Sweetgrass, and The Midnight Library.
A Cleaner Smart Home Eco System
If you have a big collection of smart home devices, you’ve probably renamed a few here, moved some to a different room there, or otherwise changed your configuration (maybe even several times over). If you’re like a lot of people, you’ve probably run into connectivity issues after enacting such changes. The best way to solve this? Resetting your system from scratch. Yes, it sounds risky – you will lose whatever routines or groups you have set up – but ultimately it will lead to a cleaner operation. Read more here.
International Beer Day is August 6th
Beer has a reputation as the drink of choice for the ordinary working person – and rightfully so! Whether you’re a craft-beer connoisseur or simply pick out whichever 6-pack is on sale, nothing beats a cool beer on a hot day. Looking for a place to celebrate this Friday? Check out one of Chicago’s many local breweries. You can also find great selections of local beers at Trader Joes and other groceries stores in the area!